PHS editor, Christy Kate McKenzie, is talking about finding magic in faraway places...
When Mr M and I got married it was a hurried affair. Not because we had to get married, quite the opposite, Mr M and I weren’t held to any particular social norm. We were leaving the country. Mr M and I were married on August 21st and had one-way tickets to London Heathrow leaving on September 7th. There wasn’t even time for a honeymoon.
We did have what we lovingly refer to as our mini-moon (a story for another time), but we made a promise to take a proper honeymoon as soon as we could afford the price or the time. Almost thirteen years later and we still haven’t had either yet—time or money.
Last August, Mr M decided to surprise me with a weekend away—without the kids! It was the closest we had gotten to a honeymoon and it was long overdue. With Nana in residence, we jumped on a plane Friday afternoon and headed off to Barcelona.
Now, being a not-so-well-travelled-American, Barcelona had never even crossed my radar. The only Spanish city I had entertained visiting was Madrid. It was probably the only city I knew of in Spain before moving to the UK. I don’t really remember much from high school geography.
I landed on Spanish soil excited to spend time on the beach and dip my legs in salt water, but that wasn’t on the cards. We only had a weekend and after settling into our hotel, we decided to skip the tourist filled beach and go in search of a little magic. We certainly found it.
Mr M and I stayed in the Eurostars Grand Marina Hotel which is only a stone’s throw from where the cruise ships dock and a large shopping centre filled with chic shops and gorgeous restaurants. The hotel, itself, was perfect. The room was spacious and had amazing views across the water, but most convenient was the short walk across the pedestrian bridge to the shopping centre and The Barcelona Aquarium.
The first night, we decided on a tapas bar called Tapa Tapa. It had amazing food and the best sangria I had even tasted—aside from the sangria made by the gorgeous young man, Maneulo, my sorority sister had brought home from a semester in Spain. We loved it so much, that we returned on Sunday evening for our last meal before flying home Monday morning.
Somehow, even though I had drank enough sangria the night before to make Maneulo proud, I managed to get up at a reasonable hour on Saturday and we decided to explore the streets of Barcelona. First, I drug Mr M to the Barcelona Aquarium. As a wannabe mermaid, I could wander around an aquarium for days. Mr M wasn’t overly thrilled at the idea, but he loves me and knows I love being surrounded by the salt water and sea creatures. I took more pictures in the aquarium than anywhere else—of stunning coral gardens, sharks swimming above our heads, and so much more.
Once I had seen my share of sharks, we decided to follow the roads around the city and make every attempt to get lost where the tourists didn’t roam. I’m so glad we did. We found ourselves on the most beautiful, quiet streets. We went to see the Barcelona Cathedral, and stood in awe of its grandeur. The ornate spires and crouching gargoyles reminded me of the fairy tales I still love to read.
The Cathedral was breath-taking, of course, but the gems we found in the narrow streets of the city outshone the normal tourist attractions. There was romance around every corner. Narrow streets were lined with cobblestones and buildings which had stood for centuries. Elegantly textured doors begged to be opened, but were locked, hiding who knew what secrets behind them. Intricately decorated walkways hung above us connecting the buildings on either side of the street. It was enchanting.
Saturday, after lunch, we found more magic. On the recommendation of a friend, Mr M and I went to tour Casa Batllo. Casa Batllo is an amazing sight—a masterpiece of design and magic produced by Antoni Gaudi in 1904. The Casa, locally known as Casa dels ossos, or the House of Bones, for its skeletal appearance is an incredible mix of colour, texture, and unusual lines which create a magical piece of architecture. It was hands-down, our favourite part of the trip.
I couldn’t describe the Casa Batllo to you in any way which would do it justice; even the pictures I took didn’t reveal its true beauty. Each room in the house is accented with unusual features which add to its mystery and magic. There are beautifully textured doors, colourful stained glass windows, ombre tile-work which draws the sun into the centre of the building and throws natural light into the rooms, and surreal sculptured ceilings.
I don’t get to travel nearly as much as I would like to. In the last thirteen years, I have been to Rome, and Barcelona once each and Scotland several times (just returned this morning from a week in Mr M’s hometown), but there are so many places I am looking forward to visiting. One thing is true of all of my travel—I always look for the magic in each place-- and I found it in Barcelona.
If you are planning a trip, make sure you wander the streets which aren’t highlighted on the tourist map, spend an afternoon in Casa Bastllo, and have a pitcher of sangria at Tapa Tapa. I promise you will fall in love with the hidden magic in Barcelona, just like I did.
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Christy is an aspiring author, fairy tale fanatic, peanut butter connoisseur, and wannabe mermaid. For more information about her and her writing, check out her website and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.